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William J. Ihlenfeld, II

1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist

March 24, 2011

Wheeling Resident Enters Guilty Pleas on Drug Charges

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA - A 35 year old Wheeling, West Virginia, resident entered guilty pleas today (March 24, 2011), in United States District Court in Wheeling before Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that CORNELL WADE, another co-conspirator to Robert “RJ” Saunders, entered pleas of guilty to one count of a drug conspiracy involving over 500 grams of cocaine and a quantity of marijuana; one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the illegal use of a telephone to facilitate the distribution of cocaine on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling; and one count of aiding and abetting Saunders in the possession with intent to distribute cocaine within 1,000 feet of Madison Elementary School on July 24, 2009, in Wheeling. As part of his plea, WADE has agreed to the forfeiture of his interest in money seized from his residence on August 27, 2009.

According to the investigation, shortly after WADE’s release from federal prison in late 2006, he began supplying Saunders with cocaine, which Saunders then resold. Saunders typically received between one and two ounces of cocaine every two to three weeks from WADE, up until August, 2009.

In Court proceedings today, the United States reported that during the course of the investigation of Saunders and his associates, agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force intercepted several communications between Saunders and the defendant WADE, indicating that WADE was supplying Saunders with cocaine for redistribution. In July 2009, Saunders, WADE, and co-conspirator Kim Marshall arranged for Marshall to pick up cocaine from WADE at his residence on Washington Avenue and deliver it to one of Saunders’ regular customers. Officers arrested Marshall, who admitted she had received the cocaine from WADE at the direction of Saunders.

The investigation revealed that WADE was responsible for supplying between 500-2,000 grams of cocaine to Saunders during the course of the conspiracy.

WADE, who is on bond pending sentencing, faces a maximum penalty of five to 40 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000,000 on the conspiracy charge; a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on the telephone count; and a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000,000 on the distribution count.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John C. Parr and was investigated by the Ohio Valley Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force. The Task Force consists of officers from the Wheeling Police Department, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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